Social workers speak out

“Social workers have been on the receiving end of austerity from two key directions. We’ve seen our local resources cut – statutory services cut, early help services, cuts to voluntary agencies we work with and children’s centres. But we also see families facing increased financial hardship: cuts to benefits, welfare cap, bedroom tax, huge problems with housing.

So we see more and more families coming into our remit because of these environmental factors. You can’t deny the link between austerity and people’s lives getting harder and harder. So to put £23 million into this feels really wrong.”

These were the words of a social worker, Chloe. She came together with fellow social workers, Ruth and Kerie, in a discussion that was recorded and broadcast live via Facebook.

More than 2,000 people tuned in, with social workers from Brighton to Newcastle chipping in with comments to the discussion.

What brought so many social workers together on a wet Wednesday in October? The government’s plans to make social work an accredited profession.

The National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) is a raft of tests which the government says child and family social workers in England will need to pass. It argues that this measure, part of its social work reform agenda, will improve public confidence that social workers are fit to practice.

But what do social workers think? Watch and find out.

Social worker’s very legitimate concerns are plain to see.

Instead of putting the services children and families need in place, the government’s response has been to scapegoat social workers and shift the burden of blame away from our crumbling system.

The real issue that hampers social work is a lack of investment.

NAAS will pile even more pressure on social workers, meaning time is taken away from their frontline work with children and families.

It is an unnecessary test, considering social workers’ professionalism and fitness to practice are already assured by a slew of standards and mechanisms. It’s also going to cost £23 million to implement.

UNISON consulted 1,213 social workers about the NAAS:

  • 99% said it will result in more pressure on social workers;
  • 93% think it will have a detrimental impact on the delivery of social work services;
  • 99% do not think it addresses the main concerns that social services are facing;
  • 93% said it will create more pressure on local councils.

Download the full survey results

Alongside UNISON’s Stand up for Social Work campaign, leading industry experts have also voiced their opposition.

Thanks to this, the government has scaled back its implementation plan – yet the minister still seems intent to roll it out, even at a reduced pace.

Consequently, Chloe, Ruth and Kerie are intent on standing up to the government and raising awareness among their colleagues.

Will you join them?

The petition calling on the government to drop NAAS has almost reached 3,000 signatures – support social workers and sign it at